University of Virginia Library

The priest gazed at the singer; then
Turned his perplexed entreating ken
Upon Djalea. But Rolfe explained:


“I chance to know. Last year I gained
The Jordan at the Easter tide,
And saw the Greeks in numbers there,
Men, women, blithe on every side,
Dipping their winding-sheets. With care
They bleach and fold and put away
And take home to await the day:
A custom of old precedent,
And curious too in mode 'tis kept,
Showing how under Christian sway
Greeks still retain their primal bent,
Nor let grave doctrine intercept
That gay Hellene lightheartedness
Which in the pagan years did twine
The funeral urn with fair caress
Of vintage holiday divine.”
He turned him toward the Cypriote:
“Your courier, the forerunning note
Which ere we sighted you, we heard—
You're bold to trill it so, my bird.”
“And why? It is a fluent song.
Though who they be I cannot say,
I trust their lordships think no wrong;
I do but trill it for the air;
'Tis anything as down we fare.”
Enough; Rolfe let him have his way;
Yes, there he let the matter stay.
And so, with mutual good-will shown,
They parted.
For l'envoy anon
They heard his lilting voice impel
Among the crags this versicle: